New Varsity Shield on Mondays sees great new line-up of campus rugby

2011-01-26 00:00

“BACK your team!” That was the call at the launch of the inaugural FNB Varsity Shield Rugby Tournament that took place at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Club at Varsity Stadium in Golf Road yesterday afternoon.

The newly formed Varsity Shield has been developed as an add-on to the popular FNB Varsity Cup, which sees the top universities competing in a festival of Monday night rugby, seen across SA on television and supported by thousands at the venues.

Essentially the “B” section of the Varsity Cup, the Shield offers an additional five universities a chance to play for a position in the premier league of varsity rugby.

They are Wits (the University of the Witwatersrand), CUT (Central University of Technology), UWC (University of the Western Cape), Fort Hare University and the UKZN Impi (University of KwaZulu-Natal).

Matches take place in a promotion relegation between the first place team in the Cup division and the winners of the Shield division.

It has long been questioned why a university team from the Currie Cup champions does not feature in such a competition, with UKZN being the obvious choice. However, this is about to change with the introduction and launch of the new UKZN Impi team.

With a name that is proudly Zulu and an impressive recruitment campaign among a deep local player base, the Impi will be serious contenders for the promotion spot.

Hence on Monday nights Peter Booysen stadium is the place to be for the finest in varsity rugby.

The venue is rich in tradition and history and hosted Currie Cup winner Craig Jamieson, ex-Springbok captain Gary Teichman, Andrew Aitken, Shaun Sowerby and Errol Stewart.

The new Shield tournament for top young players and potential Springboks is a welcome one, and there is no doubt that it will be a huge hit in the capital.

“We have some great support from local companies such as The Witness, SA Breweries, Spur and FNB in particular to ensure that our product, essentially the experience that supporters have when they enter the gates at Peter Booysen Stadium, is not just about the great rugby, but about a lifestyle,” said the marketing director of the UKZN Impi, Stu Berry.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to market Pietermaritzburg and the Impi team to South Africa, and we certainly are aiming at ensuring that the UKZN Impi reach the playoff stages and challenge for a spot in the Cup section. We want to be able to host the likes of UCT, Maties and Tukkies during 2012, and the work to get there starts now,” Berry added.

The UKZN Impi will start their campaign with a televised away game at the University of the Western Cape at 7 pm on Monday, January 31, followed by their first home game against Wits at the Peter Booysen Stadium.

Entry will be from R10 to R20 per person, and fans can expect to see a great line- up of quality rugby and entertainment geared for the whole family.

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